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Today, while putting milk and sugar in my coffee at Borders, I noticed a wad of fresh napkins in the garbage container. The idea arose in my mind, then, of a co-op coffeehouse where the cost of every single item is transparently accounted for. Everything would be stored behind the counter and the customer would pay for each item he/she chooses to purchase and use, including the cup and napkins. (It might be too much to charge for each teaspoon or bag of sugar, so I think a flat fee for sugar and milk would suffice.)

My reasoning is that the overall experience will probably be a lot cheaper for most people, because if you think about it, the coffeehouses (including Starbucks and Seattle’s Best) currently include the cost of each wasted cup and napkin into every drink they sell, so a person like me who didn’t use a single napkin paid for that wad of unused napkins in the garbage. Additionally, when people are aware of how much each little item actually costs, they’ll think twice before wasting them. I wonder if some such co-op or outlet already exists somewhere (maybe out in San Francisco or somewhere on the west coast most likely).

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